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Gender Disparities In Heart Attack Treatment: Women More Likely To Die

One-third (33.5%) of female heart attack patients receive surgery or angioplasty compared to nearly half (45.6%) of men, and among heart attack patients receiving an intervention such as coronary bypass surgery or angioplasty, women had a 30% higher death rate compared to men, reports HealthGrades.

The findings are based on an analysis of more than 5 million Medicare patient records from 2007 to 2009 and focused on 16 of the most common procedures and diagnoses among women.

The most noticeable disparities were in cardiovascular care. Heart disease is the #1 killer of women in America, surpassing all forms of cancer combined, the company said in a press release. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

CDC: Americans Are Living Longer Than Ever

The U.S. age-adjusted death rate fell for the tenth consecutive year, to an all-time low of 741 deaths per 100,000 people in 2009, 2.3% lower than 2008, according to preliminary 2009 death statistics released by CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

The findings come from “Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2009,” which is based on death certificates from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

Life expectancy at birth increased to 78.2 years in 2009, up slightly from 78.0 years in 2008. Life expectancy was up two-tenths of a year for men (75.7 years) and up one-tenth of a year for women (80.6 years). Life expectancy for the U.S. white population increased by two-tenths of a year. Life expectancy for black men (70.9 years) and women (77.4 years) was unchanged in 2009. The gap in life expectancy between the white and black populations was 4.3 years in 2009, two-tenths of a year increase from the gap in 2008 of 4.1 years.
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*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Why You’re More Likely To Die On Saturdays and Sundays

Patients don’t choose the days they get sick.

There are several studies, specifically dealing with heart attacks, showing that the mortality rate increases when a patient visits the hospital during the weekend.

It appears that the same goes for upper GI bleeding. MedPage Today discusses a recent study showing that “patients with nonvariceal upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage had a 22% increased mortality risk on weekends, and those with peptic ulcer-related hemorrhage had an 8% higher risk.”

Staffing issues, leading to delayed endoscopies, appear to be chief culprit. Minutes count in cases of GI bleeding, so the delay is a likely explanation for the higher mortality rates.

Especially in community hospitals, doctors often cover for one another, and in general, there are less physicians available. Short of having more doctors on call, a prospect that faces long odds as hospitals are loathe to pay specialists for additional call, I’m not sure what can be done to rectify this statistic.

One suggestion is to have so-called “bleed teams,” where staff can be quickly mobilized to respond solely to acute GI bleeds. But again, this likely would require more staff, and it’s dubious that hospitals are willing to bear the additional cost.

**This post was originally published at**

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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